Valley National Bank has scored a major victory in the federal Payment Protection Program.
The bank is No. 1 in Florida among both big national and regional banks in a new report that probes how financial institutions have responded to the coronavirus crisis. The report, from Miami-based banking analyst Ken Thomas, created the PPP Large Loan Community Responsiveness Index. Thomas measured each bank’s PPP loans over $150,000 against that bank’s Florida market share. An index of 1 means a bank has a market share of such PPP loans equal to its market share of deposits, and “is responding satisfactorily” to community needs, the report states. An index of two or above “would represent the most responsive and outstanding banks,” the report states, while below .50 would “represent the opposite where improvement was needed.”
Wayne, N.J.-based Valley, through its SBA loan program run out if its Ybor City office, has a 2.8 index. It’s one of three out 15 large and regional banks in Florida to score at least a 2. On the opposite side, banks such as CitiBank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America posted index scores under .50. BofA, the largest bank by deposits in Florida by far, has a .40 index, while Wells Fargo, No. 2 in the state in deposits, has an index of .18. Valley, with a statewide deposit market share of 0.82%, actually handled one more PPP loan over $150,000 in Florida than Wells Fargo, which has 13.10% of all Florida deposits, the report shows. Valley closed 983 PPP loans in Florida over $150,000.
With clients in Alabama, New York, and New Jersey in addition to Florida, Valley, in total, handled 13,000 PPP loans. Valley has $39.1 billion in assets, a chunk of which came from its $816 million deal to buy Clearwater-based USAmeribank that closed in January 2018. “We’ve got some leverage in size, but we don’t feel nameless and faceless,” says Valley SBA division head and senior vice president Chris Kneer.
One of the first steps Valley took right before the PPP floodgates opened, says Kneer, was to create an internal portal to handle applications, using document management programs like SharePoint and DocuSign. Another step was to assign one human to every PPP loan client — not just an online form. That included shifting sales personnel and bank branch management. “We just kind of divided and conquered,” Kneer says. “Anyone who is in a customer facing job at the bank, we put them out there on PPP.”
Like several community banks in the region, a significant portion of Valley’s PPP loans, around 2,100 of the 13,000 total, were for non-clients. For those, Kneer believes Valley’s relationship-first ethos could lead to doing more work for those new clients, in non-PPP areas. One example of being relationship-first at Valley, says Kneer, is transparency amid the crisis. “If a customer asks you something you don’t know,” Kneer says, “say ‘I don’t know, but I will find out.’”